Won’t somebody please think of the children

Won’t somebody please think of the children

Won’t somebody please think of the children

Going through a separation is a pretty awful experience, and it’s not something I can try to sugar-coat. It’s even worse when you have kids; they didn’t ask for any of this, they’re just dragged along for the ride.

So how do you protect your kids from the perils and pitfalls of separation? Here are some basic rules:

  1. Don’t act like everything is fine: Kids aren’t stupid. Even young children recognise when something has changed, and they’re a lot more perceptive than you give them credit for. Talk to them about the separation, ideally with your former partner, and explain that, although some things will change, you still love them and will both be completely available to them;
  2. Make sure they have appropriate support: Sometimes they will want to talk to someone who isn’t you, and that’s okay. Make sure that their school knows about any separation, and encourage them to speak to a neutral third party, like a school Chaplain or counsellor. Anglicare and Relationships Australia run some great group-counselling sessions for children where they get to meet up with other kids going through the same thing and get to talk about their own experiences;
  3. Make sure you have appropriate support: You can’t always be the hero, and to take care of your kids you need to take care of yourself – see a counsellor. If the first one doesn’t feel right, then find one that does. Different counsellors use different techniques, so find one that fits;
  4. Be a role model: Not everyone can be like Ghandi, but if you have children and you are going through a separation, you had better try to be. I always tell my clients that a relationship breakdown brings out the best and the worst in people, and that the way you act during a relationship breakdown will set the example of how your child or children will understand relationships for the rest of their lives – so do a good job (no pressure);
  5. Remember that it gets better: In the short to medium term, it can sometimes feel as though there is no way out. But remember how upset you were when you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend in high school? I don’t either. Pain fades over time and you will just be left with the good stuff.
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Comments

Guest - Daniel on Friday, 13 February 2015 03:19

Helpful tips for civil separating parties.
Unfortunately when it gets to Family Law courts it requires both applicant and respondent to obtain the greater gain in the judicial officers decision quite often by pointing out faults of the other party.
Family law courts should appoint weekly mediation observation with both parents and children present for a few months post separation and have it reported to a interim magistrate before any legal proceedings. This would protect the children from interim decision made by a third party and force civility between the parties in the best interest of the children. Their reactions and emotions being the up most importance prior to any negotiations. A standard separation procedure involving children. Factors taken into consideration.

Helpful tips for civil separating parties. Unfortunately when it gets to Family Law courts it requires both applicant and respondent to obtain the greater gain in the judicial officers decision quite often by pointing out faults of the other party. Family law courts should appoint weekly mediation observation with both parents and children present for a few months post separation and have it reported to a interim magistrate before any legal proceedings. This would protect the children from interim decision made by a third party and force civility between the parties in the best interest of the children. Their reactions and emotions being the up most importance prior to any negotiations. A standard separation procedure involving children. Factors taken into consideration.
Butlers - Lawyers & Notaries on Friday, 13 February 2015 07:45

Hi Daniel

Thank you for your thoughts.

In my experience parents and their lawyers often fall into the trap of running what I call a “negative case”, particularly if the primary carer is resisting an Application for an increase in time. A negative case is one which points out the negatives and faults of the other parent. In many matters this isn’t necessary, and the evidence instead should focus on the benefits of a child spending time with each parent. Obviously there are exceptions, particularly if there are risk issues, but that’s the unfortunate reality. The Court does its best to require the parents to mediate before commencing proceedings, which is why the Court requires that the parties produce a mediation certificate prior to filing an Application for parenting orders. I always warn my clients that by going to Court, they’re talking away the power to settle the matter on their terms, but that’s just the way it is. The Court simply does not have the resources to essentially babysit parents and make sure they act appropriately. At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of each parent to ensure that they conduct themselves with dignity, and it’s up to the legal profession to encourage that kind of behaviour.
Nicola

Hi Daniel Thank you for your thoughts. In my experience parents and their lawyers often fall into the trap of running what I call a “negative case”, particularly if the primary carer is resisting an Application for an increase in time. A negative case is one which points out the negatives and faults of the other parent. In many matters this isn’t necessary, and the evidence instead should focus on the benefits of a child spending time with each parent. Obviously there are exceptions, particularly if there are risk issues, but that’s the unfortunate reality. The Court does its best to require the parents to mediate before commencing proceedings, which is why the Court requires that the parties produce a mediation certificate prior to filing an Application for parenting orders. I always warn my clients that by going to Court, they’re talking away the power to settle the matter on their terms, but that’s just the way it is. The Court simply does not have the resources to essentially babysit parents and make sure they act appropriately. At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of each parent to ensure that they conduct themselves with dignity, and it’s up to the legal profession to encourage that kind of behaviour. Nicola
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